Hard Soft StyleMy sophomore year in high school, I made a very odd commitment for the 1980s. I swore to never wear denim again. I also set a goal to never wear my hair the same way twice in a given month.

The loftiness (or lack thereof) of my goals aside, I did attain them. And it wasn't until college that I ever donned a pair of jeans again — and then very rarely.

When I did, I tried to shake up the styling to get away from the “uniform” jeans and polos (ah, yes, with popped collars). Instead, when I wore jeans, I would tend to pair them with a very feminine style and/or formal fabric. I might wear a flowing silk blouse or a ruffled lace top or a shiny boucle jacket.

A quarter of a century later, I find myself making the same home decor style choices. I don't like very modern furnishings, finding them too sterile and clinical looking. But I like the clean lines and lack of clutter. So I opt for a “soft modern” style that is the right mix for look and comfort.

While this look can be accomplished with particular furniture choices, it can also be done with accessories. For example I might purchase a very square sofa with sharp angles and lines, and then pile on squishy, frilly pillows of various colors and shapes.

On the flip side, you can have more traditional furnishings and augment them with stainless steel accessories, like candle holders, bowls, and picture frames or make a singular statement with bold fireplace accessories.

Similarly, I love stainless steel — and have a lot of it in my kitchen, including uncovered professional appliances and a huge custom hood. But this hard, industrial look is softened by ample amounts of natural wood and warm stone.

Alternately, you could conceal the appliances with wood or use those with retro styling, making the overall room warm and homey, and then add some kitchen accessories — such as chrome paper towel holders, steel towel hooks or decorative trivets — that have a very modern look.

Mixing hard, stark elements with soft, cozy elements is a great way to incorporate the balance of style you are looking for.